Original Research

Towards evidence-based human resource development for South African local government

Harlan C.A. Cloete
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 11, No 1 | a689 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v11i1.689 | © 2023 Harlan C.A. Cloete | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 October 2022 | Published: 19 December 2023

About the author(s)

Harlan C.A. Cloete, Department Public Administration and Management University, University of the Free state, Bloemfontein, South Africa


Background: The effective management of human resources is crucial for the sustainability of municipalities. However, as evidenced by poor service delivery, municipalities are not measuring human resource development. There is no known assessment tool or system to measure the performance of human resource development in South African municipalities.

Aim: This study investigated the human resource development challenges experienced in municipalities and recommends, among other things, an evidence-based assessment tool that will improve human resource development implementation.

Setting: Participants included line managers, human resource development professionals, employees, and councillors from randomly sampled local, district and metropolitan municipalities in South Africa.

Method: An exploratory sequential mixed-methods design was used. Quantitative data were collected using questionnaires from 111 respondents. Qualitative data were collected from respondents given an opportunity to elaborate on their responses to statements in the questionnaire.

Results: The results of the study show that municipalities are not effectively implementing human resource development, which compromises service delivery and municipal performance. They also suggest that municipalities are not effectively implementing the adopted Integrated Municipal Framework for Human Resource Development.

Conclusion: The study concludes that there is an urgent need for local government to prioritise the management of human resource development. An evidence-based assessment tool will ensure that human resource development governance gaps are addressed in municipalities.

Contribution: This study adds to the debate on the management of human resource development in South African local government by providing a context-specific analysis of implementing and managing human resource development and by recommending improvement strategies.


human resource development; governance; assessment; performance; learning; local government; municipality; human resource management.

JEL Codes

A13: Relation of Economics to Social Values

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth


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